An Examination of Common Errors in Essays Written By Secondary School Students in Malawi: Some Implications for Teaching

  • Christopher Kwachakale Kavute Mzuzu University
  • Agness Chimangeni Chaliwa Hara Mzuzu University
Keywords: Corder’s Error Analysis, English as a Second Language (ESL), Inter-lingual Interference, Intra-lingual Interference


This study aimed at analysing errors in essays written by Malawian students who were learning English as a Second Language (ESL). Its specific focus was three-fold: to analyse errors using Corder’s (1974) five-stage approach to Error Analysis, to assess sources of the errors and to identify measures that could be applied to help students attain proficiency in English. The study utilised qualitative and quantitative designs. The participants in this study were students and teachers. The former were required to write essays which were analysed using Corder’s (1974) five-stage approach to Error Analysis while the latter were interviewed to establish sources of errors and ways to overcome them. The study has revealed that the following were the most frequent errors: tense, spelling, subject-verb agreement, articles, nouns, capitalisation and fragment. The study has further revealed that inter- lingual and intra-lingual interferences were the main sources of errors. The study has further demonstrated that other factors such as a lapse in reading culture, carelessness and social media’s writing style influence students’ errors. This study has shown that Error Analysis is helpful to teachers because it enables them to identify specific and common problems. Teachers can, therefore, focus more attention on the identified problems. The findings have pedagogical implications for ESL teachers because they would employ appropriate pedagogy to minimise students’ errors in the area of grammar and sentence structures. The findings also have practical implications in the sense that some platforms could be organised in order to grill teachers on how to improve their content and pedagogical skills in ESL writing. Teachers could also use these platforms to share their experiences with fellow teachers and map the way forward to improve their instruction skills.
How to Cite
Kavute, C. and Hara, A. (2022) “An Examination of Common Errors in Essays Written By Secondary School Students in Malawi: Some Implications for Teaching”, Journal of Law and Social Sciences, 5(1), pp. 52-68. doi: